The 53 man roster is set for now and the Steelers are about to announce their practice squad and begin preparations to face the Altanta Falcons in week 1 of the 2010 season. Before the season starts, I wanted to take a look at the current players on the 53 man roster who are in their final year of their contract and schedules to be free agents in 2011, if a new CBA is reached and a lock out is avoided. Currently 18 players are entering the final year of their contract and I have a small blurb on each. we will revisit this list much later in the season as it surely will be changed.
QB Dennis Dixon – Mike Tomlin has not announced Dixon as the week one starter, but all signs point to Dixon getting the nod against Atlanta. Regardless, we will likely see him at some point during the first 4 games and he will be auditioning likely to play somewhere else in 2011. The new CBA will decide if indeed there is a 2011 season and if the Steelers can place some sort of tag or tender on Dixon as he is unlikely to get a long term contract from the Steelers. It would not surprise me to see Dixon in a different uniform in 2011 and Byron Leftwich backing up Ben Roethlisberger next season.
RT Willie Colon – Before blowing out his Achilles, right tackle Willie Colon already lost in the free agency department because with no new collective bargaining agreement in place it made him a restricted free agent instead of an unrestricted free agent. When and if a new CBA is reached it will decide his status in 2011, coming off the injury will not make him that attractive in the tackle market.
RG Trai Essex – He will need a remarkable 2010 season, to not only stay on the roster all year, but have any chance at being a back up in 2011. This is likely his last year in Pittsburgh and that is music to the ears of Steeler Nation.
ILB Keyaron Fox – Fox is a big contributor on special teams and a solid back up inside linebacker. James Farrior will likely be asked to take a pay cut or be released in 2011 and there could be a small chance Fox returns. Rookie Stevenson Sylvester is closing fast as well on an inside position.
LT Tony Hills – Hills has finely made strides in his 3rd training camp, but will not play much in 2010 barring injury and he could likely be out the door in 2011 regardless unless he wants to play for the minimum as a backup.
NT Chris Hoke – The Steelers will likely try to draft the heir to Casey Hampton at nose tackle in the 2011 draft. Hoke likely will not be asked back next year.
G/C Doug Legursky – Legursky is not starter quality, but is a good backup center and guard. He has quickness to space and may get some sort of deal to return for a couple of years to back up Maurkice Pouncey and back up both guard spots as the swing man.
DB Anthony Madison – Good special teams play is what has allowed Madison to stick as long as he has at different times. at this point, he has no guarantee he will finish the 2010 season on the roster. If a roster spot is needed, he is on the short list to be first out the door.
RB Mewelde Moore – Still one of the best blitz pickup backs in the league. Hard nosed do anything player and seems to be a favorite of head coach Mike Tomlin. I would not rule him out being back in 2011.
S Ryan Mundy – Safety is another position the Steelers expect to address in the 2011 draft. Mundy is a special teamer and last safety in the game right now. Hard to say what the future holds for him right now in the black and gold.
CB Ike Taylor - The writing was on the wall this offseason when Taylor didn\’t get an extension offer. The Steelers are hoping rookie Crezdon Butler is the new right corner of the future. Ike will be looking for one final big payday and the Steelers are unlikely to give it to him.
LS Greg Warren – Sooner or later those knees will just give out. I think they might have to take Greg out back and put him down. The Steelers brought in some serious competition for him in the form of Matt Stewart this past training camp, but Greg won the job. He is getting expensive though for a long snapper and the Steelers might want a cheaper option in 2011.
OLB LaMarr Woodley – The 30% rule and LaMarr Woodley has been discussed all offseason. I am not going to tell you anything new here. I think they find a way to pay him. Some how, some way.
P Daniel Sepulveda – Hard nosed punter that is willing to kickoff as well. I see him being brought back depending on how the new CBA looks.
K Jeff Reed – Skippy has worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh. Very accurate still, but can\’t kickoff worth a damn and tends to be a distraction. Yes, a kicker that is a distraction. Enjoy his final year in black and gold.
RT Jonathan Scott – Scott followed offensive line coach Sean Kugler over from Buffalo and only got a one year deal. He is backing up Flozell Adams and this could be his only year with Pittsburgh. Jury is still out on Scott until the end of the season.
RDE Nick Eason – This is it for Nick as the Steelers will look to get younger on the defensive line in 2011.
CB William Gay – See Trai Essex blurb.